My first blog, ever, here in week 3 of the project. So far the journey has been mind boggling, moving, eye opening, confronting, and exciting. 2 weeks of observation in the school, learning about the communication strategies used to engage with the children, and communication signals specific each individual student. At first it seems daunting how to approach working interactively with the students, but with time, both the obvious and subtle systems in place to aid communication become apparent. Reading body language, interpreting sounds and movements, providing opportunities for them to express themselves verbally or physically, using the pod books, etc. I have so much respect for the teachers and the EA's, they all display such dedication, persistance, commitment and genuine care for their students.
I am finding i can get bogged down when imagining what i would like to explore with the children, if i focus too much on communication limitations. Observing Mr P the phys-ed teacher really helps to break through any tendancies for seriousness and preciousness when interacting with the students. He has a real ability for enlivening the whole group, and the EA's, while creating a fun and casual atmoshphere that the kids can relax in but also be excited and animated. Observing Anna's music class was also inspiring, seeing what the children experience when engaging with music- lots of enthusiasm, and application when playing along to songs, and joy and freedom of expression when moving and dancing. I realise there is much scope to extent the interactivity of the songs in the JubJub tree, especially the final celebration. We need to let go of the format of restricting the children to their chairs, and let them fully explore the space/environment, and engage with the music in a more playful, physical way.
Today i have been reworking the songs, especially the animal themes. I want to make them more catchy with simpler phrasing, upbeat and rhythmic, and accompanied by actions, to make them more accessible and engaging. I am realizing i need to become a producer in the course of this process, ideally we will have, as a resource, a cd with the songs available for the children to become familiar with in the class. Garage Band, here i come!